Early reading skills are consistently and rigorously taught. In Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 planned daily phonics teaches children the complex connections between sounds and letters which is essential when learning to read and spell. The best phonics teaching involves active participation by all children, detailed tracking of their progress and swift intervention for any children who are struggling. Structure, fast pace, praise and reinforcement are all key features of phonics sessions.
At Whitehall Park School we use Talk for Writing as our approach to teaching English, this strategy fits in extremely well with our thematic curriculum approach. Texts are carefully selected to ensure they not only complement the half terms theme, but also add to it; this could be by giving the class extra information allowing the pupils knowledge and understanding of the subject to deepen or looking at a new text genre, enabling the children to become more familiar with a new style of text. Key texts are read and enjoyed daily by the class, pupils are encouraged to read along with the teacher, discuss new words to extend their vocabulary and improve their comprehension skills through peer to peer discussions.
As previously mentioned, children are encouraged to develop their understanding of reading from early phonics skills to higher order reasoning, where they can make inferences and understand the impact of author intent. Attractive reading areas, shared reviews and provision of book lists are among some of the strategies used to promote enjoyment and a love of reading.
Teachers will ensure children have the opportunity to access a range of relevant, active, appropriately challenging learning opportunities.
- Read a small part of a text and get children to a) draw a picture in response b) talk to a partner about what they know or think about the text and then use shared or collective memory to write or draw a response – then present and justify their response to the rest of the class or another pair.
- Make something after reading written instructions.
- Complete a mini book review where opinions are expressed.
- Complete an ‘open mind’ where children discuss and then write or draw what is going on in a character’s head/mind.
- Ask open questions like: ‘What is in the Troll’s pocket?’ Why? Using inference and deduction, and ‘What happened before this story?’ ‘What happened after this story?’
- Take a quote or paragraph from a book and unpick it – what does it tell us? What language has the author chosen? Why? What affect does this have on the reader?
- Look at a picture or a front cover of a book – ask questions about it – why do they think this character is sad? (predict/hypothesise) Ask the children to make up some questions to ask this character.
- Use a probability scale with the children – 0 = impossible, 1 = certain. Where is a possible event likely to come? i.e. The Three Bears invite Goldilocks for tea again (place near 0 – no chance or very unlikely) – Get the children to discuss with each other how they decided to put the event here, giving reasons.